A Step-by-Step Guide to Making Easy BBQ Sauce – Kelly Vaughan

There are, approximately, 185,573,202 bottles of store-bought barbecue sauce available at the grocery store and no, that’s definitely not an exaggeration. Most are a generic version of Kansas City-style sauce—thick with a viscosity that’s far closer to ketchup than vinegar and sweet, most likely thanks to brown sugar, honey, or both. And yes, there are variations like smoky or spicy (or, again, both!). There are a lot of delicious brands of grocery-store barbecue sauce (read our ranking of the best ones here) and they’re great for backstock or picking up at a pinch. But what I love (almost) as much as a plate of pulled pork sandwich with a side of mac & cheese and cornbread is homemade barbecue sauce, preferably one that I can smother on said sandwich.

So I read the back of dozens of bottles of barbecue sauce (because reading 185 million bottles would simply be too many) to determine what components were essential to a classic Kansas City-style sauce and which were optional. Most started with a tomato base—specifically tomato purée, so that you get a really smooth texture (who’s ever heard of chunky barbecue sauce, anyway? If you have, we need to talk. I have questions.)

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